March 25, 2019Thedreidel
By Sam Kazimirowicz
As college applications are coming up, what to write for my essay has been a big question on my mind. I asked myself, what has been a profound part of my life during high school? There were a lot of topics I could have written about, but I settled on Judaism. The opportunities it gave me, the lessons it taught me, and the friends it made me have made it invaluable to my high school life, and here is what I’ve learned about it in that period of time.
I have learned about the connections it can make between people. Near the beginning of high school, I wasn’t really that popular, as I didn’t have much to connect with people on. But after learning about the importance of kehillah, or community, at synagogue, I joined my school’s Jewish Student Union. There, I found so many wonderful people who weren’t connected by interests, race, or politics, but by Judaism. I found it really easy to connect with them, whether it be through discussing the word of the day or making hamantaschen on Purim.
I have also learned about the importance of leadership. In Judaism, leading a service at your Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the transition from being a kid to an adult, much like your time in high school is. Being a part of my congregation’s choir has taught me the importance of having leaders and what it’s like to be one. Our congregation’s trip to Washington D.C., where I lobbied for the separation between church and state and funding for special education, taught me what it means to take charge to get things done. Now, I’m the one leading group projects and speaking in front of the class.
Finally, I’ve learned the importance of helping others in need. Out of all of the things we focused on at my synagogue’s teen group, the idea of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, has stuck with me the most. I learned that social justice isn’t just about donating to charity, but also taking action and fixing the problems in your community. Seeing my mom working with kids in special education and seeing how happy they felt, I aimed to make those who aren’t as privileged that happy. After helping out at my library, lobbying congress, and picking and donating fruits for charity, I learned one thing that I couldn’t learn any way else: how good it makes me feel.
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